It’s no secret the Carolinas are ripe with performance arts, options and events. This year, after a two-year COVID-19 Pandemic hiatus, holiday shows and events are back with full force. That said, for those who enjoy seasonal entertainment, you’ll be happy to learn there are numerous choices with something to smile about for almost everyone. Get ready to jingle your bells, beat your drums and spin your dreidels. We’ve put together a brief list of some wonderful holiday options we hope you will enjoy during this delightful time of year. 

Trick or Drink: Charlotte Halloween Bar Crawl 
Uptown Charlotte 
Oct. 28-29

It’s Halloween party time, and what better way to celebrate than a liquored up bar crawl? Festivities kick off at 6 p.m. at Ri Ra Irish Pub in uptown. Other bars include Roxbury, The Local and Prohibition. If you’re interested in taking part in the spirited fun to celebrate the Halloween weekend, check in at Rí Ra Irish Pub (208 N Tryon St) to get your wristband and map with participating bars, their location, and their drink specials. Your wristband gets you into any of the participating bars with no cover, plus gets you drink specials during whatever night you choose.

Southern Christmas Show 
The Park Expo & Conference Center
Nov. 10-13

Tickets range from $7 for children and $14-$16 adults

If you’re looking for something reasonably priced that offers more than song or dance, you might want to check out this diverse Winter Wonderland themed holiday event. The 55th Annual Southern Christmas Show features an enchanted entrance with frosty-inspired decorations ushering visitors into an opportunity to shop with 400 holiday merchants. Additionally, this event, which is more like a Christmas festival; will host visually stunning designer rooms, a Christmas Tree Lane exhibit, photo ops with Santa and crafts from artisans from around the country. Enjoy holiday music from choirs and entertainers performing on the Holiday Entertainment Stage.

“Above” by the Women’s Chorus of Charlotte
St. John’s Baptist Church
Nov. 11-12

The holiday season has folks looking forward to the new year and upwards in anticipation of the good things to come. Seemingly, as humans, we’re forever fascinated with things above our heads; and not just crypto currency or the birds and the bees but thoughts of spirituality and the questions of surrounding deities, the heavens and beyond. Above is a stunning spiritual holiday musical performance by the Women’s Chorus of Charlotte everyone will enjoy.

Speedway Christmas 
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Nov. 18-Jan. 15

Tickets are $30 per car

Spectacular is the word that pops up in conversations and internet searches when it comes to this light show, though that still seems like an understatement. As the event’s name indicates, this light show takes place at Charlotte’s famed race car speedway and features a dazzling and energetic display of over four million LED lights decorating the 3.75 mile racetrack. The lights are synchronized to holiday music that you can play from within your vehicle by tuning into radio station 101.3 FM. In the center of it all is Christmas Village (open Thursdays through Sundays), an indoor event space with rides and games for children and holiday shopping and specialty foods for adults. Speedway Christmas also offers Drive-in Holiday Movies (also Thursdays through Sundays) on a huge 16,000 square foot screen with sound you can control by tuning into your car radio via 105.1 FM. This two month long annual light display truly has something for everyone. It’s a must do for anyone wanting to impress visiting out of town guests, in laws and looking for something the kids will enjoy without driving you crazy keeping up with them. 

The Illusionists 
Belk Theater
Nov. 20

Tickets range from $62-$594

Beginning in November, for those who are seeking something magical and entertaining, The Illusionist might just be the ticket. Kicking off a the most magical time of year, sleight-of-hand enthusiasts can look forward to an evening of hocus pocus and abracadabra laden displays of mentalism, card tricks and old-school meets new-school magic.

Novant Health Thanksgiving Parade 
Uptown Charlotte
Nov. 23

For the second year it will take place on Thanksgiving Eve, rather than Thanksgiving morning, with a kickoff at the corner of 7th and Tryon at 6 pm. The parade includes marching bands, tractor pull floats gaily decorated for the holiday season, musical performances and convertibles for politicians and various local celebrities.

“Believe” by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church
Dec. 2-3

Tickets range from $25-$35

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte supports a diverse cross section of the community through its community outreach programs, which include benefit performances, complimentary concert tickets and choral education programs. With their latest seasonal presentation, they’ll have you feeling the magic of the time of the year with music that’s certain to warm your heart with breathtaking arrangements by Dan Forrest and Hawley Ades and lots more. They’re offering two shows: Friday at 7:30 pm & Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Handel’s Messiah
Knight Theater
Dec. 2-4

Tickets range from $10-$146

Described as divine, passionate and wondrous, this performance features classical music lead by Conductor Laureate Christopher Warren-Green delivering his world-renowned interpretation of Handel’s Messiah. If the show’s name doesn’t give you a hint, this performance might just be the go-to for those who enjoy the religious component of Christmas. Themed in a manner that provides commentary of Jesus Christ’s nativity, passion, resurrection and ascension it begins with God’s promises as spoken by the prophets and ending with the glorification of Jesus in heaven.

Holiday Extravaganza
North West School of the Arts
Dec. 9-10

This event will bring together two of the Charlotte LGBTQ community’s favorites to present musical selections for the holidays: the Charlotte Pride Band and One Voice Chorus. The presentation is open to the public. For ticket prices and further information contact donald1.nagel@cms.k12.nc.us

The Nutcracker by Charlotte Ballet
Belk Theater
Dec. 9-10

Tickets range from $94-$739

Looking to kick off the holiday season with a classic? Don’t miss the famed Nutcracker performance by the Charlotte Ballet. A talented cast of 100 dancers promise to recreate the magic of The Nutcracker in this much-celebrated annual community production set during a snowy Christmas Eve. Borrowing from the Illusionist, this show begins with a town’s local magician who gives gifts to local children. One of the children, Clara, receives a wooden nutcracker that comes to life. A war between mice and tin soldiers ensues while a festival awaits the children in the enchanted Land of Sweets. With colorful and elaborate costumes, choreography by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and rousing live music performed by the Charlotte Symphony, this show is sure to delight ballet and classical music fans of all ages.

The 68th Annual Singing Christmas Tree
CPCC Dale F. Halton Theater
Dec. 11

Tickets range from $13-$45

This creative musical production has been going on for 67 years with this year being the 68th. The production literally showcases the largest singing Christmas tree you’ve probably ever seen. Well, it’s not actually a singing tree – but on the other hand it is. What looks like a huge tree is actually an enormous stage prop with vocally talented performers placed in horizontal rows like ornaments – complete with human topper. As you might imagine, Christmas tune favorites are sung, and in years past there’s been video commentary by adorable and funny puppets. It’s a production that will definitely make you smile.

Sugar Plum Brunch
Hyatt Centric Charlotte, South Park
Dec. 17

Tickets range from $66.60 – $513.75

Interested in an engaging and interactive event? How about a holiday brunch complete with holiday photos, a fashion show, live entertainment, dancing, give-a-ways and oh yeah…brunch will be served. So, prepare to arrive decked out in your best holiday attire for those photo ops and don’t worry too much about that $513.75 ticket price. The higher rate is well worth considering if you plan to attend with at least seven others. You will need a reservation however, whether it’s just you, you and your boo or you and you and seven of your favorite folks.

Hanukkah “Nailed It” Baking Challenge
Sam Lerner Center for Cultural Arts
Dec. 18

Not everyone celebrates Christmas. For some folks, this time of year isn’t about the hubbub of shopping in stores bathed in red and green and snow kissed decorations. For many (particularly our Jewish community members and friends) the season is more likely celebrated with subtle blue and white decorations, a game of dreidel and good food. No matter how you spell it (Hanukkah or Chanukah), like most holiday celebrations, tradition, joy and food bring smiles to faces and people together. Borrowing from the recipe for the Netflix show “Nailed It” this special Hanukkah event brings families together to compete in three rounds of a culinary tournament where competitors will recreate delicious and complicated cakes and confections in hopes of winning a prize and trophy. There will also be songs and a menorah lighting for all to enjoy. We couldn’t find a ticket or entry price for this one but we do have an email contact at michelle.rusgo@charlottejcc.org

Hip-Hop Nutcracker
Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts
Dec. 26-27

Tickets range from $19 – $59.99

If you’re not a big ballet or classical music fan, this contemporary version of the classic holiday show is for you. Directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, Hip-Hop Nutcracker celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with an opening by Hip-Hop legend Kurtis Blow. Show goers can expect dance performed to Tchaikovksy’s timeless music, a DJ and a violinist. Like most traditional versions, Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker Prince go on a dream adventure battling a gang of mice, visiting the Land of Sweets and learning the lessons of the holiday season. However, progressive and imaginative bring this story from the past to the present and from Germany to New York City in a memorable, unexpected and vibrant manner.

AADE 37th Kwanzaa Fest
Durham Armory
Jan. 1

Kwanzaa Fest

Typically, Charlotte and surrounding nearby neighborhoods generally feature a few Kwanzaa festivals and events. This year’s events were more challenging to find, but for those willing to take a little drive, Durham has answered the call. On the last day of Kwanzaa (Day 7: Imani-Faith) a good time will be had with a drum class for children and an open market. The market will include vendors, dancing, poetry, singing and more. In lieu of an admission fee the event also underscores two of the seven celebrated principles (Day 3: Ujima-Collective Work and Responsibility & Day 5: Nia-Purpose) by inviting event attendees to bring canned foods and toiletry items that will be collected and donated to a local non-profit organization. Kwanzaa is a seven-day African American cultural holiday designed to celebrate cultural heritage and traditional values with empowering principals and rituals. People of all races and ethnicities are welcome to learn more about the holiday and partake in celebrations like this event.

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